British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland will be ruthless in selecting his squad

Last Updated: 26/12/12 1:15pm

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Warren Gatland is ready to make some "really tough calls" when he finally comes to choosing his British & Irish Lions to tour Australia next summer.

The New Zealander will select his squad for the three-Test series with the Wallabies next spring following the Six Nations and the culmination of the domestic seasons.

Gatland admits the recent autumn internationals left him and his fellow coaches - Rob Howley, Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell - with much to ponder and selection dilemmas over many positions.

But he insists he is willing to make some big calls and leave some big names at home if they do not fit into his plans.

"I am not afraid of making those big calls and obviously the other coaches will have a huge impact into that and the final selection. And it is a nice position in certain areas to be in."
Warren Gatland

"When we finally do come to it there are going to be some really tough calls," he told the Rugby Club.

Outside centre appears to be one of the many competitive positions with Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll close to returning from injury and England's Manu Tuilagi and Wales' Jonathan Davies continuing to impress and make rapid progress in the position.

"We are talking about three quality players," Gatland said of the trio. "One with a lot of experience who has been there and done that and two younger up-and-coming centres who seem to be getting better and better every test match they play.

"I am not afraid of making those big calls and obviously the other coaches will have a huge impact into that and the final selection. And it is a nice position in certain areas to be in."

Balance

Gatland and his fellow coaches sat down this week to discuss selection, deliberating for three hours over the different options.

And forwards coach Rowntree says they will have to be ruthless in selecting a stream-line squad, especially when it comes to picking the back-row.

England captain Chris Robshaw is among those fighting for a place in the squad along with the likes of Wales skipper Sam Warburton, last season's Six Nations player of the tournament Dan Lydiate and heavyweights such as Jamie Heaslip, Stephen Ferris, Sean O'Brien, Tom Croft, Tom Wood, Toby Faletau, David Denton and John Barclay.

Rowntree told the Rugby Club: "There are log jams in many positions and we could certainly deal with taking a squad of 50 but we are trying to get under 40.

"You want to take enough guys to do a good job but you don't want a lot of guys sitting around twiddling their thumbs. That is a balance for us in terms of our selection.

"We had a quick stab at it last night - I say quick stab, it was three hours trying to select the squad last night. And an hour was on the back-row."

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